TechRussian Su-57 fighter jets: Potent but sidelined by production woes

Russian Su‑57 fighter jets: Potent but sidelined by production woes

Images source: © Licensor
Norbert Garbarek

26 June 2024 14:28

According to the Bulgarian military portal, former U.S. Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst Brandon Weichert believes that Russian Su-57 fighter jets should not be underestimated. However, Weichert thinks the latest Russian aircraft is "too valuable" to send into combat.

The analyst recalls that Moscow ordered 76 fighters from the Su-57 manufacturer long before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, making the planned number of aircraft impossible under current conditions.

Thus, the Russians have to make do with about 30 Su-57s, which, according to Weichert, are currently in the arsenal. Unfortunately for Russia, at least 10 of them are prototypes, and let's remember that recently, Ukrainians claimed the destruction of at least one Su-57 on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The number of modern fighters is, therefore, relatively small, and India's withdrawal from the development of the Su-57 in 2018 further hampered aircraft production. Four years later, the war in Ukraine caused the Russian industry to shift in a different direction, and the construction of the Su-57 took a back seat. "The Su-57 now remains more exotic than effective," the report reads.

In practice, the Su-57 should not be underestimated

Weichert notes that the latest Russian design should not be underestimated. Their defence industry produced it to compete with the F-35 and F-22. Due to the limited number and challenges associated with the mass production of such advanced machines, the Su-57 has not significantly affected the skies over Ukraine, the analyst states.

He also emphasises that it is not correct to claim that the Su-57 should be considered insufficiently good because it is not present in Ukraine. Many commentators argue that Su-57 aircraft do not fly over Ukraine because they do not perform as well as advertised, similar to the T-14 Armata tank. But these impressive parameters may be too advanced for actual combat, explains Weichert.

Su-57 - illustrative photo
Su-57 - illustrative photo© Suchoj

Currently, it is difficult to assess the Su-57 impartially

The American geopolitical commentator believes that it is currently difficult to impartially assess the capabilities of the Su-57. The machines have not had suitable opponents to engage in evenly-matched air battles. According to the Russians, the Su-57 does not differ in capabilities from the latest stealth fighters produced by the West. Western experts estimate, however, that it is completely different and that the Su-57 is significantly inferior to the F-35 and even more so to the F-22.

Weichert points out, however, what is currently known about the capabilities offered by the Russian design. Firstly, he emphasises that its advantage is high manoeuvrability. The Su-57 has an aerodynamic design optimised for mobility in flight. It allows for performing difficult manoeuvres in the air, which, according to the analyst, exceed the capabilities of competing fifth-generation machines.

What is also important is that the Su-57 was designed as a versatile machine capable of achieving air superiority and attacking ground targets. The fighter has the necessary equipment for conducting advanced electronic warfare, which means jamming the enemy's radars and communications.

Compared to the old F-16s, which the Ukrainians will soon send into battle, it is still technically a better aircraft than the opponents might face in combat, the American analyst says about the Su-57. He added that the Russian design is equipped with the advanced N036 Byelka radar system, which allows tracking up to 60 targets, making the Su-57 a tough opponent for Western machines in the air – if the Russian Federation decides to test this weapon in combat.

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